- - Monday, July 18, 2011

MONTANA

New spill went unreported for month

HELENA — A newly discovered oil spill in northwestern Montana went unreported for a month before a neighboring landowner complained to the Blackfeet Indian tribe, federal regulators said Monday.

FX Drilling Co. never reported the spill, estimated to be between 420 and 840 gallons, to the tribe or to the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA spokesman Joe Vranka said.

The amount spilled at the FX Drilling Co. oil field in a remote corner of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation appears to be much less than the estimated 42,000 gallons that emptied into the Yellowstone River earlier this month. But the northwestern Montana spill comes at a time when all pipeline and oil operations in the state are under scrutiny as a result of the larger Exxon Mobil Corp. pipeline break.

The company found the break in the flow line between two oil wells on June 12 and shut down the line, Mr. Vranka said. Company officials may have thought the spill didn’t go beyond the oil field, he said, when oil had actually flowed down a ravine nearly a mile to the Cut Bank Creek, which connects with the Marias River.

NEW JERSEY

FBI: Couple kidnapped Israeli to force divorce

TRENTON — A New Jersey rabbi and his wife surrendered to the FBI on Monday on charges they abducted an Israeli man, beat him and threatened to bury him alive if he didn’t give his wife a religious divorce.

The case against David and Judy Wax in U.S. federal court marks a strange twist in a chain of events that started with a divorce dispute in Israel’s Rabbinical Court over the victim’s refusal to give his wife a “get,” an Orthodox Jewish divorce document permitting a wife to remarry.

The victim, who is not identified in court documents, apparently fled Israel after refusing to grant a divorce. Israeli media reports at the time said the Rabbinical Court had shunned him and put him on a wanted list, and appeals for his whereabouts appeared in religious publications.

According to the FBI complaint, the victim was lured to the Wax home to discuss opportunities for the victim to work on a book the rabbi was writing about the Talmud. Once in the home, the victim says, he was bound, robbed, shown a body bag and told he’d be buried alive in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains if he didn’t agree to the divorce.

NEW MEXICO

Groups to fight Manhattan Project parks

ALBUQUERQUE — Anti-nuclear activists say they will fight a proposal to create national parks at Los Alamos National Laboratory and two other sites where the world’s first nuclear bombs were developed.

Interior Secretary Kenneth L. Salazar released a study to Congress last week that recommends establishing a national historical park to commemorate the top-secret Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb.

But Greg Mello, who heads the Los Alamos Study Group, said Monday that the recommendation debases the idea of national parks by glorifying weapons of mass destruction.

National Park Service spokesman David Barna defends the proposal. He says the idea is to preserve the history of the Manhattan Project, good or bad.

If Congress approves, the parks would be created at Los Alamos, N.M.; Hanford, Wash.; and Oak Ridge, Tenn.

NEW YORK

Cousin admits role in subway terrorism plot

NEW YORK — A cousin of admitted terrorist Najibullah Zazi publicly admitted for the first time Monday that he was in on Zazi’s chilling 2009 plot to attack New York City subways with suicide bombers.

Testifying at the federal obstruction-of-justice trial of Zazi’s father, the cousin told jurors that he introduced Zazi to a cleric in Pakistan who arranged for Zazi and two friends from Queens to get training at an al Qaeda outpost.

“There are three guys who want to go to Waziristan,” cousin Amanullah Zazi, who was living in Pakistan at the time, recalled telling the cleric.

Najibullah Zazi has pleaded guilty, admitting that he returned to his family’s home in Colorado to cook up homemade bombs. He then drove to New York City in September 2009 with plans to attack the subway system in a “martyrdom operation” that was foiled by the FBI.

Amanullah Zazi pleaded guilty in secret and agreed to become a government witness in federal court in Brooklyn against Najibullah Zazi’s father, who was charged in a reputed cover-up.

From wire dispatches and staff reports